Wednesday, July 19, 2017

PRAY. FOR. TACO. (November 27th, 2011)

        Today I've decided to post this blog from my trip to Bolivia in 2011 because a few weeks ago my friend Aurelia and I realised that we were in Cochabamba during the same period of time that year. She was 16 and still in high school, I was doing a journalism internship and and being a white, western boy in a 3rd world playground.
        What makes me laugh the most in this blog entry is the part where I say, " and Jan walked the streets without any troubles before the bus ride." - that really doesn't make much sense at face value, but when I read it I remembered what I was actually talking about, but was too scared to write in my blog:
        Jan and I (also needed to fix up that grammar there silly 20-yr-old me) had walked the streets before the bus ride, but what I've left out of this post from 2011 here is that we were walking around smoking a spliff. Marijuana is illegal in Bolivia and carries with it a hefty penalty even for possession, so it was real dumb of us to walk around the streets in broad daylight smoking one. How stupid? Well, when we finally got to check in to our hostel in La Paz – which I somehow still remember was called Hostal Cactus (!??!!) – we met a girl (from the US maybe?) whose friend had just been arrested the week before for possession of a TINY amount of weed and was at the time awaiting trial and looking at a JAIL SENTENCE for his crimes.
        Jan wasn't even there by that point, he'd moved on if I remember correctly, having to get to wherever the next dot on his map was, but I remember telling Melanie later on in fearful awe, what we'd gotten away with. Looking back six years later it's just another of those dumb shit decisions that could have sent my life a completely different way.
        And here's to many more! Enjoy.

        Fuck. It's 5:40am and me, Jan, Sandrine and Melanie are sitting in some 24 hour cafe in La Paz waiting for something lovely to happen, anything at all. Let me explain.

        We all went to some village Saturday morning (26th) under the pretense of painting the old rooms in the local orphanage. All the volunteers except me, Jan and Sjoerd did just that while we played soccer with kids and were mercilessly attacked all morning. It was awesome, but whatever, right now I don't care.

        The volunteer activity thing was supposed to finish 'no later than 2pm' so we planned to leave Cochabamba on the 5pm bus - no such luck. We were back in Cocha by 4pm and left on the 7:30pm bus (which actually left at 8) to La Paz. Still relatively incident free. Heaps of rum in backup reserve and luck seemed to be on our side as me and Jan walked the streets without any troubles before the bus ride. Shit still peachy, so fuck this part of the story too.

        By the time we were on the bus and moving it was dark. We drank a little rum and did whatever you are supposed to do on a bus for 8 hours. Close calls on toilet stops and, as fucking usual, I get no sleep. Towards the end of the ride I was feeling SKETCHY and spent the last two hours lyng face down in the aisle. Culmination: projectile vomit in front of ten or so startled onlookers at La Paz bus terminal. But then I felt better, and the hotel was only a taxi ride away. Fuck blind optimism. Fuck taxis.

        After paying some faggot, idiot, ball-less, ass-face science experiment of a cab driver a retarded amount of money to drive us to 6 different hostels and make sure that yes, you are too late and yes, you are being fucked - after that, we found a hostel that was open. I don't have my immigration slip. It's back in Cochabamba. No hostel for us. Heaps of swear words.

        So with nowhere to sleep until my host brother wakes up and sends me a scan of my documentation, we are, as the two french girls sitting to my left would surely say, 'le fucked'. Things that are relevant right now:
        Not getting mugged
        Maintaining a healthy level of humour about this whole situation

        On that note; what a start to mu trip to La Paz, huh? A down right knee slapper to be sure. Ha. Ha. Ha.
        But seriously though, I'm about to kill myself.

Peace, Taco.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

A Well Made Drum (November 1st, 2013)

For the first time ever, I have a costume. Well, okay, it's a drum... but HEYFUCKYOU this is the first time I've ever been ready to go to a costume party. Finally, I won't be that loser who didn't dress up because he 'didn't care' or he 'thinks costumes are lame' or his 'skin becomes inflamed when exposed to most fabrics' – lame excuses every single one, and if anyone pulls that shit on me tonight they are getting a smack upside their head-bone. Fuck all you hoes. I have a drum.

So what I did was I found a bucket that had been sitting outside my room for like ooooooh fuckennnn... two weeks? Not a big bucket, it's a modest affair, like maybe something you would get five kilograms of lard in from a grocery store for the grossly overweight. It has a handle, which I was unable after some effort to remove, but that shouldn't be a problem. I have tape in my room always, so when I saw the bucket my mind made the connection between those two items and the weird slouch-hat thingo I have never worn that's in my wardrobe and went 'BEATNICK'. Oh fuck yes.

I tried a few different materials for the skin of the drum before I hit upon a winner: old shirt? Not able to be pulled tight enough for good sound, plus looks dirty, plus can't fasten well and is too bulky – shit. Plastic bag? Tightness problem solved but has too much give in it as a material to make a good skin, doesn't POP when struck, as drum should – shit. Paper bag? Good skin, slightly weak, but can be taped over to make strong, plus as added bonus can draw peace symbol on with pen – YES!


The bottom of the bucket (it's white, I think I found it and used it to wash my brushes in terps when I was painting the room) is still showing out of the bottom of the skin (I used a brown paper bag in the end) and the sticky tape looks kind of tacky when it reflects the light. But my drum makes a nice POPPING sound when I hit it, just like my old bongo used to. The idea for the costume ACTUALLY came from Phil – I was going to use the hat as the foundation for a French Philosopher outfit, but he suggested Ned Flanders' dad from that tiny cut-scene in The Simpsons: “Ned spilled ink all over my POEMS MAAAAAN!”

The best.

So now all that's left to do is figure out how to incorporate a red scarf thingo into this outfit – there IS a way – and go buy a tiny pocketbook from a newsagent before they all close so that I can walk round the party drunkenly accusing people of spilling ink all over my poems, and I feel like I have a fair chance of taking out the title at this Halloween 'party'. There's no title, as far as I am aware, but there will be. I will be sure of it. And when I win, I'm going to beat the fuck out of my drum, probably put my fist through it, cry, yell, and then throw it at someone's head.

Watch the fuck out Melbourne. Today, is Saturday.

Peace, Taco.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Musings on Immoral Behaviour (August 15, 2012)

Just for a little context, this was written a month after I moved to Melbourne, while I was living at the Melbourne Connection Hostel on King St and living like a bum, in much the same way I do now, but with longer hair.

This morning I woke up at 9:30am, had and went downstairs to the kitchen where I found that my milk had been stolen and the walls had been written on. There you go... that's a perfectly straightforward English story right there. No frills, no bows, very little difficult language. For those of you with shit to do today – the dishes, bathing, religious ceremony – you can stop right there safe in the knowledge that what you have just read fairly and concisely sums up the first hour of my day today. For those of you with a few more stones in your belly, continue on. Let's make an afternoon of it, shall we?

The last couple weeks there has been a string of seemingly random food thefts perpetrated by a shadowy, anonymous stranger lurking within the annals of the hostel... last week I lost two tupperware containers of lovely chicken-vegetable something that I had cooked and saved for myself. Jean lost one as well, and a few other random items of condiment or whatever have been reported missing from different people's food stashes in the freezer or pantry. Needless to say this behaviour is looked upon fairly unwelcomingly by the community and before long people had started leaving long, sometimes eloquent notes on their food to discourage the thief - my particular words were along the lines of “don't touch my food faggot, go buy your own... actually before you do that, kill yourself”. (I would like to say that I have been the spearhead of this movement and maybe in the eloquence department I fairly could, but plenty of other people have had some rather colourful words attached to their shit – it's not just me) Anyway... considering the recent string of mooch-crime it sadly came as little surprise to me this morning when I trekked downstairs after a shower (not in my favourite shower this morning – it was occupied by a couple of Germans AKGH – but that's neither here nor there) and found that my two litre milk was nowhere to be found... wait that's no good. My milk, that I had found... wasn't... find? Found. I couldn't find it... even when someone hadn't founded.... ugh
Some dick had stolen my milk... is basically what I'm trying to say here.

I've talked to Bobby, the night manager, about checking the cameras in the kitchen to try and pinpoint who the thief is and while there's been words and times floated around the place, I was sure from the beginning that no action would be taken in this crisis. Yeah sure there are cameras and it's not so hard to switch on a TV and check them from particular dates and times, but knowing the calibre of staff that operate this place, even work which basically involves watching an extended version of Big Brother until you see the bad guy is going to be put off for as long as possible. Bobby ain't a bad dude... he's great in fact. But he's never going to do it.

So then at around 10:10am when one of the other managers came out and said something to the effect of, “yep, that's it, we've got em all on camera” in a serious, big boy tone, my mind did backflips. “WHO IS THE MOTHERFUCKER THAT STOLE MY FOOD? WHEN CAN HE BE BROUGHT TO JUSTICE? HOW MANY PUNCHES TO THE FACE DO WE GET EACH?” Real forgiving shit... So that was at 10:10am, but before I go any further I need to take you guys back to last night. Just real quick. Because it's fun. It breaks up the main narrative. And adds dramatic effect.

Last night I went and saw a couple comedy shows including one at Pugg Mahone's (interestingly enough, 'pug mahone' apparently means 'kiss my ass' in Irish soooo... there you go?) where Myrthe – a Dutch girl from the hostel – works. Apparently I left without saying goodbye – a faux pas that I was later chastised heavily for, especially because I managed to squeeze a free drink (a squash though, let's be fair) out of the lovely lady while I was there. I got back to the hostel around eleven and found Ollie, the lanky German with the brilliant laugh, back amongst the living after a week in Thailand. This is the guy who suggested to Jean (who has hilariously small eyes) that we should “have a competition to see who can open his eyes the widest and the loser has to buy everybody pizza” so yeah... he's alright. Ollie had bought a litre of Smirnoff back from the duty free store, and Myrthe and Hannah (black English girl... sassy etc.) were down for a drink. Simeon (looks 26, is 21) and Kieran (looks 26, is) joined as well... and the next few hours writes itself really.

After a few hours of these guys slamming down vodka and getting loud with me vicariously enjoying their antics we turned our eyes to the wall behind us which is covered in photos of people who have stayed at the hostel at various times in the last few years partying and having fun. The main problem that we could see with these pictures was that they were not of us, and as such were ripe for alteration... so ripe... top ten ripest. We set to work with a permanent texta rating the people in the pictures out of ten: top angle looking down on blonde girl – six. Fat girl hooking up with other guy – 2. Sexy girl with black hair who is hot in three separate photos – 9. Passed out dude with wack face – MONG. Etc... The real vandalism started when Dutchy and Hannah got on their bitchy-soapbox tip and started ranting about some guy they had both slept with who apparently was “too slow” and “gave no orgasm” and “had a lot 2 learn private lessons could have been 4 free bad personality X”. They wrote it on the wall in thick, blue permanent and faced the cameras blatantly. I'm on camera writing on the photos, which can just be pulled down, but their hateful mural will have to be painted over... silly silly... nothing good ever happens after 2am.

So anyway, that happened last night, and to bring us back to 10:10am this morning, the manager from the hostel had just rolled out the big guns, “yep, that's it, we've got em all on camera”. I realized though, after my initial hopeful fancy that it had been about catching the food thief, that he was talking about the writing on the walls, and that my ass could very well be on the line here. This was only a second after vicious, bloodthirsty images of a lowly, broken bastard, tied to the stake and gnashing his teeth, breath still smelling of my chicken-vegetable something and staring down the barrel of an open, running sewage pipe that was about to be blasted into his face. Guilty as fuck and fucked for sure...

...and now that was me. I was the one staring down the pipe and the sewage was coming straight for me. I am, and it is. And as much as that sucks, I brought it on myself. I did the stupid thing on camera, and even if they caught my thief, his crime is really no worse than mine... well marginally, but they are both shitty things. The photos that I drew on can be taken down, and so too can my food be replaced... the base transgression at the core of both actions is disrespect. I didn't ask to draw on the photos, fagboy didn't ask to take my food. In both instances, I'm sure the answers to the request would have been yes – “can I have some food?” 'yes'; “can I draw on these pictures of mongs?” 'yes' – but the question was never asked. After last night I have been forced, as I seem to be on about a weekly basis, to re-evaluate my position and rethink some of the hasty thoughts that have sprung into my head. Simply reacting to situations is only the clumsiest way of getting through the day and I really have to stay vigilant on my snappy, self-indulgent thoughts if I am ever going to make change. Ultimately, I guess I just have to start making my food a little less obvious. I'm never going to find the thief – sinful bandit fucker that he is – but at least I can make my stuff a little less appetising for his grubby little thief-fingers. Maybe then he will disappear forever, and I can forgive him for his sins, and those two serves of chicken-vegetable something that I miss so, so much.

Peace, Taco.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Forty-Eight Hours Later (August 3rd, 2014)

When something happens – it could be anything – it's hard to say whether that thing that's happened is definitively good or bad. Even when you might feel feelings about it, and think a certain way, you can't tell whether your feelings are the right ones, or whether they're discoloured by some attachment you have to what's going on. Maybe there aren't even any right feelings, they just are. There. They just exist and you feel them and then they leave and who cares anyway because what the fuck even are feelings except thoughts made of fairy-floss for sissies?

And it's hard.

I promise this will make sense later, I'm not just telling you because it's funny, although that is one reason why I want to tell you that... yesterday, twice, I sat on a toilet and looked about in a panic, suddenly realizing that my cubicle had no toilet paper. Twice... some people don't even sit on a toilet twice in one day at all, but I guess I don't get to be one of those people. This is one thing I have feelings about.

The second time I was in a trendy bar in Liverpool and it was around 8pm, I had met up with Faye, a girl I met at a comedy show in Melbourne earlier this year, and another friend of hers to drink and be merry. I escaped my dilemma in in the toilet when I found a few scraps of paper on the windowsill. Afterwards we all left for her friend's twin sister's house, I played pool against some Liverpudlian (oooooh that's weird and fun!) guys and we got proper drunk. I woke up in the morning on a deflated inflatable mattress in a room that smelled intensely of mango-scented candles.

The first time I'd found myself trapped in a toilet was just after eating breakfast at some diner, it was £6.50 and fine – everything sort of tasted the same. I tore out a page from my notebook this time – reminiscing about Bolivia where I learned that trick – and then pulled up my pants from the floor to hear the unexpected PLOP of my phone dropping into the bowl. My knuckles may have brushed poop – it all happened so fast I can't remember exactly – but when I got it out it was broken, so an hour later I bought a new one.

Before that, in the morning, I went for a walk from my hostel, which I had booked for the wrong weekend but luckily, upon arriving the night before managed to secure a bed at anyway after five minutes of gripping terror at the prospect of having spent £21.50 to take a cab from one place I wasn't allowed to sleep at to another. The stroll took me through thirty minutes of bleak semi-industrial blocks, fenced off areas, and a highway without crossing lights, in the rain, which definitely became heavier the further I walked from shelter.

The night before I had been on a flight from Geneva to Liverpool which left at 9:45pm, I ordered a chicken soup because I thought it would be nice, and “some water” because I thought it would be free. Neither turned out to be true, and after paying £7 for the two and taking a sip of my water I contemplated the depths of my own righteous fury, which distracted me for the rest of the flight and well into Liverpool's John Lennon Airport, where I finally realized that I had left my three-pound bottle of water on the plane.

So yeah, these are all stupid things and mostly my fault, and I keep noticing myself in these situations and genuinely laughing at my dumbfulness... and then I get confused, why am I laughing? Phones cost money. Bums need to be wiped. Sleeping on the street on you first night in a new country is not a thrilling adventure, and £7 is a lot of fucking money... I am reacting strangely to this world.

Like right now I'm sitting in a dorm room at a hostel with five other guys, none of whom are talking to eachother, and one of whom keeps clearing his sinuses in that really gross INWARD-SNIFF way that I admittedly have been guilty of before, in my feebler moments. I am fuming with rage right here, but I can feel how unreasonable my negative reaction to this all is – I keep looking around wide-eyed like someone is going to turn to me and go, “I KNOW RIGHT! This dorm sucks haha! Let's go get cocktails!” But they don't, they just keep watching movies and scratching their various itches and that one guy's sinuses just keep needing to be sniffed clear while he sits on his bed eating CHIPS!!?

Really though I think I'm just feeling a little isolated, delicate, and precariously alone.

At the airport, in Geneva, just before walking through the security screening gate, where I would clumsily pull my laptop out of my bag and unwrap the towel that I keep around it for padding. Before I lost my first bottle of water and my almost-new can of deodorant to the border patrol. Before I hurriedly stuffed books in my pockets to make sure my hand-luggage would be light enough to travel after hearing that oversized bags would be turned away, and before I knew how stupid the next 48 hours would be. Before all of that, I shared a hug, and a kiss Рthe last one Рwith M̩lanie Cartal, the girl I fell in love with three years ago, and have second-guessed ever since. We shone under fluorescent lights. That night we took one last breath, and then closed the book, and ended our story together.

It's... intense. You know? Because for three years I've held a tiny hope for me and her, and that doomed flame has kept me going at times, but that night we extinguished it, because if we're both honest with ourselves, it was never going to burn again on its own anyway. There is sadness there, but also joy because now for the first time in almost three years, in that part of me, I think I just may be right with myself.

I don't know why this guy with his fucking chips is making me brainstorm efficient strategies for night-time murder-suicides, or why I'm laughing while my life, which I have packed into two bags that both pre-date my high school graduation, is falling apart around me, those feelings confuse me. But thinking about the end of that thing that ended on Friday, strange and indefinable as it was, that's not confusing, it's just hard. It means that I'm feeling slightly shaky right now, because my heart is a little bit broken from doing the right thing for once.

Oh my god he just fucking sniffed again I'm actually going to burn this fucking place to the ground.

Peace, Taco.